Don’t ski here!

Briony and Lyen at Tyrwhitt/Pocaterra/Lookout junction

Mar 28, 2020

Thanks for all the “pandemic” comments. We have a lot of thoughtful people following this blog. 

My final ski trip of the season last evening was wonderful, but sad at the same time knowing it would be the last one of the season, and possibly forever.


My understanding is that Highway #40 is now closed at Mt Kidd RV Park, so the only folks who will benefit from this report are the people who live in PLPP. That includes all the workers who live in staff housing and the dozens of people who have cabins along the lower lake. Some of you are probably not aware of the “grandfathered” cabin owners since they are well-hidden. 

The trails were groomed on the 26th(it says the 27th on the Live Grooming Report, but it was actually the 26th) and were in excellent condition. I was slowed down a bit when it started snowing at the top of Whiskey Jack and for part of Tyrwhitt. 

Someone who skied Whiskey Jack previous to me wrote “100” in the snow. I’m not sure what the significance was, but it compelled me to go back through my records and count how many times I’ve skied Whiskey Jack, thinking I had probably done it 100 times. It’s the trail I’ve skied more than any other in the SkierBob universe. It turns out I’ve skied Whiskey Jack 194 times! (But it’s still not enough. No amount will ever be enough).

Starting out on my all-time favourite loop

I well remember the first time I skied WJ. It was Dec 11, 1998 with George Smith and it was the first time I skied any of the south trails in PLPP and was overwhelmed with the beautiful surroundings, the variety, and conditions.

At 6 pm, there was one other vehicle in the Boulton Creek parking lot and I was happy to meet Briony and Lyen at the Tyrwhitt/Lookout/Pocaterra junction. 

Guess the trail…

I will post the photos from yesterday without any captions to see how many of you can name the trail or specific location. I’ve numbered the photos, so leave a comment with your guesses. Anyone who has skied the “Loop” will find this very easy. Update: GMJ identified all of them correctly. See his comment. 


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  1. Is there something about “all vehicular access to provincial parks is prohibited” that’s confusing? You realize these precautions are in place FOR YOU, older people? This attitude of the rules not applying to you is pretty selfish and disappointing. If everyone disregarded the rules it would be mayhem…totally irresponsible.

    • To whom is this angry comment directed? I see no evidence of anyone here disregarding the rules.

      Also, as an “older” person, I felt much safer on my own on the ski trails than I do in the crowded city, and I relied on skiing for healthy exercise. This is a huge loss for us.

      • Diana, that’s what I was wondering also. Henry is one angry dude, but his anger is misplaced because no rules were broken. Alberta Parks posted this notice on Friday: “Effective Friday, March 27 at midnight vehicle access is temporarily suspended at access points to Alberta’s provincial parks and recreation areas for recreation purposes until further notice.”

  2. Was in the area same day, skiing back to the car along fox creek (between Patterson and north hydroline junction) on the right of the downhill ski track (on AT gear) as the tracks were a little tight together. I was struck by size of the banks having skied right beside them, only inches away and being careful not to hit a blob. A bit droopy, overhanging and with icicles given the large snow pack and the heat of spring. The tops of the banks were at shoulder and head height. I don’t recall experiencing that amount of snow before, or just never noticed it on a spring day with track skis.

  3. Bob or for anyone who has answers! 2 questions for you, when you headed out for the last ski, did you check the grooming report? I was at Pocceterra because some trails around were the latest to be groomed in PLPP. I left Calgary around 1pm and checked the grooming report but nothing popped as groomed on the 26 or 27. I wish I had done blueberry instead but still nice to get out since it’s all closed. 2. What wax did you use? I did a poor mans purple wax (some blue and some red) but it wasn’t gripping all that well and then it would clump up after every herringbone.

    • Suzie, the Live Grooming Report was not updated until late in the day on the 27th. I took a chance by going to Boulton and got lucky. I used VR50(0/-4) and it was gripping well without any clumping.

  4. I don’t know if anyone else noticed the excerpt below, found at the bottom of the final live grooming update from PLPP:

    “While the first few months of 2020 have challenged Alberta’s Cross-Country Skiing Community, we appreciate your continued support and hope to see you out on the trails again in the future.

    Please practice social distancing and stay safe everyone. If you have any thoughts or photographs to share, we will happily receive them at the following email address:

    Worth letting them know how much we appreciate the grooming.

  5. Bob, apologies if I’ve missed it elsewhere but has anyone organized a petition of support and/or plan to privately fund track setting next year? I would happily donate to such a cause. This resource is too valuable to lose! Thanks, Shawn

    Writing to the Minister of Environment and Parks, Jason Nixon, and your MLA, is about all that can be done right now. -Bob

  6. Herbert Kruschke

    That’s a lovely photo of Briony and Lyen. I don’t know them from Adam, but wow.
    P.S. My last ski (last Sunday) was the Moose Loop/Mountain Road/Crystal Line West and East (East was a beeatch, being tired and with slippery skis) loop. Still a Grand Day Out, mind you.

  7. I didn’t identify the last one – is that Whiskey Jack coming down through the campground …?

    It’s Moraine at the Whiskey Jack junction. -Bob

  8. Hi Bob. Love your blog and thank you for being such a central and objective voice for the outdoor community. Why do you say possibly forever??? I’m kicking myself for not getting out more this past glorious winter and if this pandemic teaches us anything it will be not to take what we have for granted. I had just found a pair of waxless skis for my husband and was so looking forward to getting out today. But of course we don’t own a helicopter and can’t get to the trails. I’m hoping we can convince our government the importance of connecting with the outdoors. I know economically it will be a challenge but one silver lining from all of this will be the recognition of importance of connecting with nature…and the ability to get people out in a way that is affordable. Hope all is well.

    • “Why do you say possibly forever???”
      Cindy, as it stands, these trails will not be groomed next winter. -Bob

  9. 1 and 2 are on Whiskey Jack
    4 is looking down Pocaterra from the Pocaterra-Whisky Jack junction
    5 is at the North Lookout/Pocaterra/Tyrwhitt junction
    6 is looking back down Pocaterra from said junction
    7 is just entering the meadows on Tyrwhitt
    8 is looking back to the entrance to the meadows on Tyrwhitt
    9 is my favourite picnic table near the end of Tyrwhitt
    10 is Elk Pass looking towards Mt Tyrwhitt
    11, 13 and 14 are Elk Pass along Fox Creek
    12 is the start of Blueberry Hill with a nice view of Mt Fox
    15 is Boulton Creek?
    The south end PLPP trails are my favourite ski trails and I’m really sad to see them go. There’s something indescribably magical about those secluded snow-covered subalpine forests. I always have the sense when I’m skiing there that it can’t quite be real.

    All correct. I thought the Boulton Creek photo might be a tough one. Since there’s only one left, #16 is Moraine at the Whiskey Jack junction. -Bob

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